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Ultimately, Qin Wentian strongly believed that cultivation was something that should follow the heart of the cultivator and hence, he didn’t put too much thought into what his choices should be.
Strength, attack power, defense, speed—he had no flaws in these areas. Hence, he decided not to think too much and would choose when the appropriate time came for him to choose.
Qin Wentian opened his eyes—he’d just opened his fourth Astral Gate and was currently using his perception and senses, opening up a pathway up to the Heavenly Layers.
Tonight, the starlight was exceptionally resplendent, and once again, Qin Wentian’s perception continuously climbed upwards, soaring up to the Astral River in the Nine Heavenly Layers.
After undergoing so much tempering, his perception was now at a monstrous level. Very swiftly, he bypassed the 4th Heavenly Layer, and soon after arrived at the 5th. At this moment, he felt a strong sense of pressure pushing back against him.
“I already have three Astral Souls at the 5th Heavenly Layer. This time around, I must definitely barge up to the 6th.” Qin Wentian’s will was incomparably resolute, and his perception continued to climb upwards as that sense of pressure grew increasingly overwhelming.
He stepped past various constellations, and even passed by those whose glow was extremely blinding.
“Peak of the 5th Heavenly Layer.” Qin Wentian paused as he regarded the sea of constellations, satisfaction in his eyes. After which, his countenance hardened as his perception rushed upwards.
His domineering conviction led Qin Wentian up to the 6th Heavenly Layer. Over here, even with his level of strength, he still felt fear from sensing the fluctuations of the various constellations.
Even geniuses might not be able to withstand such pressure, or even be capable of climbing to this layer, unless they broke through to the same level as a Celestial Phenomenon. In other words, only those from the Ascendant level were able to use their Astral Souls here to absorb astral light and convert it into astral energy. He, Qin Wentian, may be the only exception.
“A Flame-type Astral Soul, but the flames it emits seem to be that of hellfire. It also contains a hint of the underworld—this fire appears to be one that can be eternally inextinguishable, or at least until its target is incinerated to ashes.” Qin Wentian stared at a constellation near him, however he had no intentions to form an innate connection with it.
His perception continued soaring through the 6th Layer. Right now, he could still control his senses.
“That constellation…” Qin Wentian stared at a sabre-type constellation in the distance. It was completely pitch black in appearance, hanging suspended in the air. Even from such a far distance, Qin Wentian felt as though he could be split in half just from gazing upon it.
Qin Wentian involuntary thought of Bai Qing executing the Nine Slashes of the Underworld. If the Astral Soul she condensed was this particular one, the power of her attack would definitely be augmented by an inconceivable amount.
Qin Wentian continued exploring, steeling himself against the mounting pressure that caused his senses to tremble.
He saw a constellation that emitted an exceedingly evil aura, in the shape of a gigantic skeleton that had a mountain of corpses and immeasurable remains stacked upon it. Other constellations were extremely far away from it, as though even they were fearful of it.
“This constellation most definitely contains extreme power.” A thought appeared in Qin Wentian’s mind, but he had no intentions to form an innate connection with it.
Cultivation follows one’s heart. He wasn’t evil by nature and regardless of how powerful an Astral Soul was, if it didn’t match him well, that Astral Soul was still useless.
Although one could also use the power bestowed by the evil Astral Soul to do good, eventually the cultivator himself would slowly be influenced. Hence, it was still better to give up on such a constellation.
In the vast astral river of the 6th Layer, Qin Wentian saw many unfathomably powerful constellations. He could sense that he had already reached the edge of the 6th Layer, but when he tried to bridge the gap crossing into the 7th Heavenly Layer, he found himself unable to proceed.
In the nine Heavenly Layers, every three layers represented a gap. The luster of the corona surrounding the Astral Souls would change; for the initial three layers, there would only be a faint golden corona around the Astral Souls; for the middle three layers, there would be a pure golden corona around the Astral Souls; and for the 7th Heavenly Layer, the corona of the condensed Astral Soul would be violet-gold in color.
Astral Souls on the 7th Heavenly Layer totally and completely eclipsed Astral Souls condensed at the 6th Layer.
Qin Wentian’s perception was forcibly bounced back, causing his mind to tremble violently as savage headaches wrecked him internally. He wiped traces of blood off the corner of his lips and rested for one full day. In the following days, he tried a total of seven times to breach the gap, and was met with failure every time. But naturally, his time at the 6th Layer wasn’t wasted. He explored the Astral River there for quite some time, looking for a constellation suitable for him before he attempted to breach the 7th Layer.
This time around, it was already the eighth time his perception soared into the 6th Heavenly Layer. After some time, his perception reached the peak of the 6th Layer. There, he saw a constellation, right at the peak of the 6th Layer and just before the gap to the 7th. Around this constellation was a vast region of desolation, for as far as the eye could see, there existed only a single constellation.
This constellation was in the shape of a sword, and it appeared to be an ancient gigantic astral sword that was embedded right at the very peak of the 6th Heavenly Layer, suppressing all other constellations beneath it. From the resplendent light it radiated, there lay darkness in its very depths. Billions of floating sword shadows could be seen inside that light, obeying its summons.
Without question, this was a sword-type astral constellation, and it somehow felt like Excalibur—only the worthy could wield it, a sword belonging to a Monarch that would dominate the world.
If one managed to condense an Astral Soul originating from this, then all other sword-type Astral Souls would tremble in fear before it, submitting to it in reverence.
“You’re it, then!”
Qin Wentian’s will gushed forwards, moving towards that king of swords. Instantly, a terrifying wave of energy slashed downwards, attempting to cleave Qin Wentian’s consciousness into two, crippling his mind and turning him into an idiot.
“How tyrannical,” Qin Wentian mumbled, but this only made him want to condense it even more. His heart and will had long been tempered to the point where he didn’t fear anything. His will soared upwards, clashing with the energy wave of that sword. Yet, that unruly energy seemed unconquerable—nobody could control it.
Ordinary people wouldn’t even dream of touching it; they were not qualified to.
This was the first time for Qin Wentian to meet such a constellation, and it was as though it possessed its own power of thought. Yet despite the strong resistance, how could he give it up? His own terrifying will continued forth inexorably, fiercely pushing back the sword’s pressure.
On the arena platform, Qin Wentian’s body began trembling violently, as though it was about to be shredded by an immense pressure.
“What’s going on with your junior brother?” Nervousness painted his face as Mustang turned to Luo Huan.
“I’ve no idea, but there shouldn’t be anything wrong.” Although Luo Huan reply was as such, she also felt extreme worry in her heart.
Qin Zheng’s silhouette slowly walked over. Upon seeing the abnormal situation Qin Wentian was in, his eyes glimmered with a strange light as he commented, “He’s in the process of condensing an Astral Soul, but it seems that he’s met an extremely tyrannical one and he’s not willing to give it up.”
The radiant astral light cascaded downwards, transforming into countless incomparably sharp sword slashing towards Qin Wentian in an unmatched tyrannical manner.
“This…” Qin Zheng stared on, dumbfounded. What constellation was Qin Wentian trying to condense an Astral Soul from exactly?
Qin Wentian’s trembling grew more and more intense, as demonic qi exuded in huge waves from his body. Even his will, determination and heart seemed to transform into tangible energy fusing together, shooting straight up the dome of heavens as it aided him in fighting against the constellation.
The constellation seemed bent on making him give up. The king of swords, mortals wasn’t qualified to wield its power.
Yet Qin Wentian’s heart had already been tempered to such a degree, how could he give up in the face of a mere constellation? He wanted to be the master of it, instead.
Qin Wentian opened his eyes and inclined his head. A terrifying light shone within them as he stared upwards, imposing his will of Mandates within his gaze.
Boundless starlight blasted downwards, and the trembling of his body slowly stopped. The initially aggressive rays of light now gently enveloped his body, as an aura of extreme sharpness pervaded the air. Moments later, an incomparably radiant, golden-colored glow radiated out from him as the astral soul-form of that ancient sword appeared to float above his head. A pitch-dark sword reminisces for the dark flames of purgatory.
“That corona…” Qin Zheng, Mustang and the rest felt terror in their hearts. The pure golden radiance radiating from it was at an intensity they had never seen before.
“An Astral Soul from the 6th Heavenly Layer.”
Mustang was dumbstruck, this disciple of his was constantly surprising him. He wasn’t even fully twenty-one yet and if he were to return to Chu now, he would stand at the very peak.
Heavenly Dipper Sovereigns were already considered legends in Chu.
The Astral Soul gradually finished forming, and then exuded a tyrannical aura of kings.
Qin Wentian hadn’t finished yet—after the condensation of his Astral Soul, his next job was to birth his fourth Yuanfu.
Currently, Qin Wentian’s combat prowess could already be considered in the Heavenly Dipper Realm. However, he birthed all three of his initial Yuanfu at the very start of the Yuanfu Realm. A period of time would be needed for the amount and quality of Astral Energy in this fourth Yuanfu to match up to the earlier three.
A month later, Qin Wentian finally stopped his cultivation. When he opened his eyes, he noticed several people surrounding him.
“You guys don't want to cultivate?” Qin Wentian asked.
“We’ve already cultivated for nine solid months,” Fan Le stated, depressed. “And what's going on? BOSS WHY HAVE YOU NOT BROKEN THROUGH TO HEAVENLY DIPPER YET?”
Qin Wentian could only shake his head with a bitter smile on his face. The indication of breaking through to Heavenly Dipper was the birth of an Astral Nova and the qualitative transformation of one's Yuanfu.
To ordinary people, they only had a single Yuanfu. So after their Astral Nova was nurtured and birthed in their Yuanfu, their Yuanfu would evolve and they would officially step into the Heavenly Dipper Realm.
But he, was different. He cultivated the Art of the Nine Astrariums and at the Heavenly Dipper Realm, he could have a total of four Yuanfu. He couldn't step into Heavenly Dipper before all four of his Yuanfu were nurtured and then birthed into an Astral Nova. It wasn’t that he didn't want to, but he couldn't do so.
That was why the Art of the Nine Astrariums was so powerful. When he finally stepped into Heavenly Dipper, he would be completely different compared to ordinary Sovereigns. The gap between them was immeasurable. For opponents who only had a single Astral Nova, even without innate techniques, he would be able to effortlessly suppress them with just the number of novas he had alone.
“All of us, including myself, have already reached the threshold of Heavenly Dipper Sovereigns in terms of combat prowess. It's time we think about how to exit this place,” Qin Wentian stated. To condense his fourth Astral Nova, Qin Wentian would first need to comprehend the Mandate of Swords to the second level. To do so, he would have to temper himself outside in order to break through any bottlenecks that may occur.
“I can send you guys out.”
A voice drifted over, as the gazes of the crowd turned in that direction, they discovered that the owner of the voice was none other than Qin Zheng.
Although Qin Zheng was trapped in with them, he didn't really have a friendship with any of them. Even when they were learning the nine ultimate arts, he didn't participate because he wasn't that familiar with Qin Wentian.
Yet now, he actually said that he was able to send them out of the formation world.
Qin Wentian’s expression faltered, while the light in Yun Mengyi’s eyes brightened.
“I am the same as you, gaining all thirty-six eccentrics’ approval in the Unmatched Realm. Don't forget that I excel in the Mandate of Space, and Yun Mengyi should be very clear of who my teacher in the Unmatched Realm is. He has given me a life-saving treasure.”
As he spoke, Qin Zheng took out an ancient scroll that emitted terrifying spatial waves—it seemed to belong to the concept of Space.
“This ancient scroll can control the power of space, transferring us ten thousand miles away. This is the treasure my teacher has given me, and we can make use of this to exit the Vermilion Bird Formation. But let me say this first, I have no control over this treasure, so all of us might end up being transferred to different places.”
“Since you have this treasure, why didn't you use it to exit earlier?” Qin Wentian stared at Qin Zheng in puzzlement.
“Most of us here are from the Unmatched Realm. Although the Unmatched Realm has never interfered with matters of the outside world, my teacher as well as the rest of the eccentrics, do not want us to fall here.” Qin Zheng matched Qin Wentian’s gaze as he replied. He, Qin Wentian, Yun Mengyi, Chu Mang, Fan Le and Ouyang Kuangsheng were all cultivators of the Unmatched Realm.
“Fine, I will trust you on this… Let's go out then.” Qin Wentian stared at everyone as he continued his instructions, “After we’re out, everyone must leave Ginkou immediately. Don't gather together, as this would make it easier to attract attention. Ouyang and Bai Qing, both of you return to your respective powers, there won't be anyone daring to make a blatant move against you then. Chu Mang and Fan Le, you guys return to the Unmatched Realm in Azure Continent. Bailu Jing and Bailu Yi return to the White Deer Institute… but as for teacher Mustang and Senior Sister Luo Huan…”
There was no need for him to worry about Yun Mengyi and Mu Feng. But Mustang and Luo Huan just weren't strong enough.
“I won’t go then, it isn't so bad to stay here to cultivate.” Mustang laughed, “Wentian, after you grow powerful enough, remember the debt the Nine Mystical Palace owes us.”
“I'll stay here and accompany teacher then.” Luo Huan smiled, “Pick us up when you are strong enough.”
Qin Wentian sighed, his heart filled with melancholy, but he nodded his head lightly. Gazing at Little Rascal, who was being hugged by Luo Huan, a series of yiyiyaya sounds echoed in his mind.
“You want to stay here as well?” Qin Wentian asked Little Rascal.
“Arf!” Little Rascal bobbed its head in agreement.
“Alright, accompany teacher Mustang and sister Luo Huan in my stead then. I will definitely be back for you guys,” Qin Wentian stated, as he withdrew the excess Yuan Meteor Stones in his possession, passing it over to them.
“Wentian gege, I don't want to be separated from you so quickly.” Bai Qing pulled at his hands, sadness apparent in her eyes.
“You are still so weak, wouldn't you be a burden if you stayed by my side?” Qin Wentian laughed causing Bai Qing stick her tongue out at him, knowing that Qin Wentian was intentionally teasing her.
“I will put in all my efforts in cultivation when I return. When the Mystic Moon Sect falls to my control, I will come and help you then.” Bai Qing smiled in an extremely adorable manner. Yet everyone knew that under all her smiles and laughter, there lay an incomparably resolute heart—she was a practitioner of the Chaotic Art of the Heavenly Devil after all.
“Mhm.” Qin Wentian nodded, gazing at every one of them. As he drew in a deep breath, he felt a great sense of reluctance at parting with his companions. But despite his reluctance, he understood that no matter what happened, the act of barging through Grand Xia had to be done single-handedly!
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